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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Police Must Act Against Perkasa

By Kee Thuan Chye | Malaysian Digest

Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) is getting out of control. Its latest brush with Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng that resulted in a scuffle is testimony to its growing tendency towards verbal and physical violence. More than that, it seems to be presuming that it is above the law and can say and do what it likes with impunity.

It was reportedly holding a demonstration in Telok Bahang at the same place where Guan Eng was visiting the local residents. The scuffle broke out when the group of 50 Perkasa members threw anti-Guan Eng posters at him and his delegation, and then one of them reportedly charged at him.

Penang Perkasa leader Mohd Rizuad Mohd Azudin claims that the fracas was orchestrated by Guan Eng’s people to make Perkasa look bad to the Telok Bahang residents. But in the first place, why did Perkasa choose to hold the demonstration where Guan Eng would be? Why did they come armed with anti-Guan Eng posters and even paste them all over at least one of the shops there? Who was orchestrating what?

According to Penang Chief Police Officer Ayub Yaakop, the police were not informed ahead by Perkasa about their intent to hold a demonstration. This therefore transgressed the Peaceful Assembly Act, which requires any party wishing to hold a public gathering to inform the police 10 days before the event.

That being so, why did the police not break up the gathering? When at other times, especially at pro-rakyat rallies, the police have been more than enthusiastic in dispersing the crowds, why were they so accommodating with the Perkasa group?

It is only after the fact that the Penang CPO comes out to say, “I am not happy with the way Perkasa carries out its activities.” This is like ticking off the class bully after he has broken his victim’s nose, but the damage has been done, the victim has suffered, and the bully is allowed to go free.

No action has been taken against Perkasa for breaking the law in not informing the police about its gathering. Guan Eng has complained that the police did not even arrest the Perkasa member who charged at him and threatened his safety. It’s all hot air from the Penang CPO.

This, sadly, has been the story of how the police have been dealing with Perkasa over the last two years of the NGO’s existence.

Earlier, in February, Perkasa and Umno Youth members disrupted a peaceful anti-Lynas gathering at Speakers’ Corner, Penang, created mayhem and injured two reporters. On that occasion, too, the police just stood and watched.

Guan Eng was there to address the anti-Lynas crowd, but the Perkasa and Umno Youth members shouted profanities at him. When he left, they surrounded his car and blocked it from leaving. This was abusive, aggressive behavior but the police took no action. It seemed then and it still seems now that not even the Penang Chief Minister is safe from verbal and physical violence. It is unheard-of that someone holding such a high position is not protected from thuggish behavior.

The question also needs to be asked: Why was Perkasa involved in going against an anti-Lynas protest? In fact, on that day, its members and those of Umno Youth were chanting support for Lynas – apart from shouting profanities.

It’s understandable if Umno Youth is pro-Lynas since it is affiliated to the ruling party, which has agreed to the setting-up of the Lynas rare earth plant in Gebeng, but Perkasa is an NGO that was set up to defend Malay rights. Lynas has nothing to do with Malay rights.

Perkasa seems to have morphed into something else. This became evident when it startlingly went against the Bersih 2.0 rally last year. It announced it would hold a counter-rally to the Bersih 2.0 one – for reasons it wasn’t even sure of. How did Bersih 2.0’s call for free and fair elections impinge on Malay rights? So what was Perkasa’s real agenda in wanting to stage a counter-rally?

Has Perkasa become an eccentric body that does things for no good reasons? Is it an organization of nuts who run around with more than one screw loose? Or is it really an Umno proxy that pretends to be unaffiliated?

More and more, it seems likely that Perkasa is an Umno proxy. In its joining up with Umno and its associates to threaten anti-government groups, like they did in Merlimau, Melaka, in May, an event that also resulted in violence, Perkasa is probably the stormtrooper outfit of Umno.

Besides, let’s not forget that its patron is none other than Mahathir Mohamad. This fact alone should give some credence to the speculation.

Is that why our apparently partisan police have their ears closed when Perkasa issues statements that could, in the words of the Sedition Act, incite “feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races”? Mahathir has on occasion done that too.

Is that why the police do nothing when Perkasa members behave like gangsters – in Penang, in Merlimau, in Seremban last September at a protest against PAS leader Mat Sabu?

Such gangster behavior, such violence should not be allowed to be repeated. But because the police have been so tolerant of Perkasa, the NGO has become all the more bold, all the more brash in flexing its muscles.

Perkasa is already proving to be a menace to society; how long more will it be allowed to throw its weight around before something disastrous happens? Who knows what big mischief it might conspire to do if it is not pulled up for what it has done?

Our prime minister is too feeble to rein in Perkasa – he is afraid of losing the Malay right-wing votes – so it is up to the police to do the right thing. The police must admit that it is because they have been lax with Perkasa that the rate of violence has increased. They must recognize that stemming such violence will be for the good of the country.

It’s surprising that no government leader has yet to come out and say that gangsterism is not part of our culture when they have been quick to say that street protests are certainly not. But then it suits their purpose well that such gangsterism is inflicted on their political foes. And they no doubt hope it will help them win the next general election.

But this is not the purpose of the police. Their job is to protect the peace. Their job is to be non-partisan. If they cannot carry out this job, they will be letting down Malaysia.

Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the bestselling book No More Bullshit, Please, We’re All Malaysians. The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer.

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